It was one of those days where I had few errands and being it was lunch time, I chose to stop and grab something quick to eat. Though I hate to eat alone (actually there is not much I like to do alone, I am a true extrovert and like hanging out with people), I mustered up the courage and chose to find a seat and eat my chicken avocado salad. I occupied myself with viewing email and interacting with a few people through text, but found myself drawn to the conversation behind me (sorry, being that extroverted self, I notice people and am interested in their stories). It seemed to be a group of friends talking about life, yet most of it surrounded some of the difficulties of life; the loss of a loved one, money mishaps, health struggles, holiday family drama, and relationship strains. Now yes there was laughter, a few awkward pauses, and lots of good empathy flowing (probably why so much was being shared). Yet, one interesting phenomenon caught my attention. After each discussion of what would seem to be a hopeless disappointment, hope was grasped as a promise of renewal was given. Let me explain.
After the story of relational strain and holiday family drama, someone shared that though they knew this was tough, God could take this and turn it around. Not that the relationship would necessarily work out, but that character could be sharpened, and that love given is never wasted. It reminded me of what the Bible teaches.
Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited.
John 13:34 A new commandment I (Jesus) give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
There is a hope that God can bring renewal to relational strains. The key is to seek Him.
The same thing happened with the discussion of health and money issues. The encouragement came that though these troubles run deep, God’s love, grace, mercy, and help runs deeper still. I was again reminded by what Jesus said.
Matthew 11:28-30 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
There is hope in the amazing Lord Jesus, who is not just a baby in a manger, but a living Savior who can take all our woes and disappointments and do the miraculous. It may not be that we are healed or win the Lotto. But there will be rest, peace, comfort, and even joy. The key is to approach Him.
Money seems to be a favorite when it comes to hopelessness, yet the subject came up. Though there were listening ears to the real issues, the conversation quickly turned to how God had provided in the past and He may not just provide the money. He will provide options. I was taken again to the Bible…
Philippians 4:19-20 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
There is renewing hope in a God who cares enough to send His Son to live among us so we get that he understands our plights. That is another reality we should celebrate at Christmas time.
As they talked about the death of someone and the heartfelt grief of the loss, the joy of heaven gave hope. This person who died had that assurance of heaven and evidently so did this group as they talked of God’s mercy and love. Their grief was not without hope for they trusted in God. I was reminded of a truth giving prayer from the Bible.
Psalm 30:10-12 10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!” 11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
God does that as we process our grief. It is not that He takes away the pain of death and loss, but He will walk with us and comfort us along the way. Here is another prayer in the Bible.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
I turned to the group as I was getting up to leave and confessed my hearing of their conversation and thanked them for encouraging my hope, that I was holding on to the hope of renewal.
Church can be a great place to learn of God’s hope and the hope of heaven. If you are not already connected to a church, please feel invited to ours. Our website has information about our various campuses. We would love to connect with you, especially during this Christmas season. Just check out our website, www.cypresschurch.net .
Seeking to hold on to that renewing hope of God with you,